Ford Auditorium Detroit, MI, USA – Friday, November (18) 21, 1975
Disc 1 (43:14) Guitar Solo, Do You Close Your Eyes, Self Portrait, Greensleeves, Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, Catch The Rainbow, Jam, Man On The Silver Mountain, Guitar Solo, Man On The Silver Mountain
Disc 2 (46:31) Keyboard Solo, Stargazer, A Light In The Black, Still I’m Sad, Drum Solo, 1812 Overture, Still I’m Sad
There seems to be a discrepancy concerning the date of Rainbow’s first visit to the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan on their first American tour in 1975. The tape has circulated for some time and has been the subject of a couple previous releases, Detroit 1975 (DP-00-2-1/2) and more recently Flashes Of Lightning (Rising Arrow 048). Both of these titles have the date as being the 18th of November, for this new release the folks at Tarantura give the date as the 21st, even though this release comes with a small advertisement that clearly shows the date as being the 18th (the opening band was Argent). The list of tour dates places it as it being the correct date and the itinerary also makes sense, starting in the east and working their way west. Regardless here it is, Rainbow’s first show in Detroit. There is one audience source for the concert, it is a good, slightly distant almost complete recording. The vocals, guitar and keyboards are clearest in the mix, but the bass and drums are harder to discern. There is a minor amount of hiss present, most notable during Ronnie’s comments, the volume may have been boosted a bit to make his between song banter easier to hear and the sound stays consistent throughout the recording. Tarantura have done a very nice mastering job of the tape although it remains merely average in sound.
The recording begins with Blackmore playing an ambient solo that reminds me of the opening of The End by The Doors. About 30 seconds in you can hear a conversation with a small child and her mother, the child asks “what’s happening?” the mother replies “The show’s starting” and she also remarks about seeing two shows in one day. After the Blackmore solo the band launch into Do You Close Your Eyes, Ritchie plays a nice slide solo and Tony Carey’s keys add nicely to the song. Ronnie thanks the audience and asks them if they like the rainbow, the response is positive. Cozy gets a nice lead in to Self Portrait, getting into the cowbell early on. The band play a very confident version of the song, Ronnie’s vocal delivery is very strong and he hits some wonderful soaring highs. One can only wonder why this song did not stay in the set lists longer as it is simply awesome, even in such an average recording. Sixteenth Century Greensleeves has the typically wonderful Greensleeves prelude, Blackmore plays a gentle version that is augmented nicely by Tony Carey. The audience likes the transition between the gentle intro and the main riff. It is a shame the drums are not clearer in the mix, Cozy does nice great fills that can be heard during the quick breaks of the song that sound really good and the song finishes very aggressively.
A nice, slow version of Catch The Rainbow follows, Ronnie’s use of echo effects and the natural echo of the hall make for a very interesting sound as if it is floating in the air. In the Martin Popoff book English Castle Magic Ritchie talks about the initial recording of the song and how after it was complete, Ronnie was vocally improvising while listening to it, Blackmore liked it so much they over dubbed some of this on the song. This is what makes the song so special is Ronnie’s vocal interplay throughout the song, sadly there is a cut at 9:33 that omits the end of Blackmore’s solo, obviously due to a tape flip the recording starts again catching the end of the song and the nice ovation it receives.
“Feel like getting up? Well get up” is Ronnie’s address just prior to Man On The Silver Mountain, Blackmore plays a super laid back jam before the song and we can finally hear Jimmy Bain clearly and they just noodle around a bit before kicking out the jams. From the first note the band lock and hit this one in full stride, Cozy is laying waste with his double bass drum to great effect. The guitar solo in the middle features Blackmore starting like he was fired out of a cannon but he slows the pace before Ronnie enters in with some nice vocal interplay, it is short and sweet and the band kick it back in and hammer out the rest of the song.
What has always intrigued me is the time line of early Rainbow, the first album was recorded in early 1975 while Blackmore was on a tour break with Deep Purple. After his exit from Purple the Elf band was replaced by the “classic” line up of Dio, Powell, Bain, and Carey, based upon the fact that a few months later the band was playing complete versions of the two epics from the Rising record that would not be recorded for about four months after this concert one can assume that after the line up was stable they not only rehearsed for their first tour but were also working on new music. The first piece is the brilliant Stargazer, the tempo is slower than the versions from the official and live versions from the following year giving the song a heavy feel. Blackmore states he was inspired by Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir in his creation of the track, you can really hear it in this version. He plays a nice snake charmer slide solo in the song, thankfully Cozy’s drums are very clear in the mix. While these early and slower versions of the song are interesting to hear they are simply not as effective as later versions would become. The transition into A Light In The Black is tighter, a super quick pause and the band hit into in full stride. Ronnie does not seem to have his lyrics finalized but musically it is a powerhouse and clears out any cobwebs left from the pondering of the previous song. Carey takes the first solo, he plays tentatively not really elaborating much just playing a simple theme and one is glad when he breaks back into the song. Blackmore takes the next spot and gets into a much more enjoyable solo full of wonderfully expressive playing, a true master of the instrument at times it sounds almost off worldly. Ritchie and Tony do a little sparring and the end of the song is fast and furious finishing a high note.
Curiously after the song’s conclusion the tapers talk about going back stage and comment that the bass player “sucks”, one wonders if the duo are responsible for the tape as well as the photos? Ritchie takes another quiet solo before Still I’m Sad but the raucous crowd makes it difficult for him, he hits them with feedback and goes into the main riff. Ronnie’s vocals are incredible during the song, he is simply hitting it and Ritchie’s playing is really nice. He had been playing the riff during the last days of Deep Purple, the song would make for the perfect vehicle for improvisation. Cozy gets his solo spot next and one can wonder what the audience thought when he breaks into the 1812 Overture, he seems to overpower the backing music as he relentlessly attacks his kit with a furry. Ronnie calls out “COZY POWELL” when he is finished and the band roll back into the Still I’m Sad reprise that ends in feedback, finishing the concert in superb fashion.
The packaging is a gatefold sleeve adorned with live shots of the band as well as candid backstage pictures featuring topless shots of Ronnie, Jimmy, and Cozy in scandalous fashion. The cd’s have pictures on them that are nice and this is a typically nice release from Tarantura, as previously noted the set also comes with a small newspaper advertisement to lend to the date confusion. This release is limited to 100 numbered copies, a great performance by the band yet the average sound quality makes this release more for the seasoned collector.